The Horror of Party Beach

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The Horror of Party Beach
The Horror of Party Beach.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDel Tenney
Produced byDel Tenney
Alan V. Iselin
Written byRichard Hilliard
StarringJohn Scott
Alice Lyon
Allen Laurel
Marilyn Clarke
CinematographyRichard Hilliard
Edited byLeonard De Munde
David Simpson
Gary Youngman
Distributed by20th Century Fox
(distributor)
Regal Films and Dark Sky Films
Release date
  • June 1, 1964 (1964-06-01)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50,000 (estimated)

The Horror of Party Beach is a 1964 American horror film in the beach party genre, directed and co-produced by Del Tenney. The film, described as "a take-off on beach parties and musicals," is considered to be one of the worst films of all time.[1]

Plot[edit]

Near a small East Coast beach town, in broad daylight and a short distance from shore, a boat dumps a 55-gallon metal drum labeled "Danger Radioactive Waste" into the ocean. The drum opens upon reaching the bottom, releasing its contents upon a sunken ship and a nearby human skeleton. The skeleton (but apparently not the transparent, tropical fish swimming by) is transformed by the "radioactive waste" into an aquatic, humanoid monster characterized by bulging eyes, fins, and mouth stuffed with appendages that resemble sausage links. The monster immediately ambulates toward the beach, where a dance party featuring The Del-Aires musical group is in progress.

Hank Green, an employee of local scientist Dr. Gavin, attends the beach party with Tina, his immature and drunk girlfriend. While dancing, Tina flirts with Mike, the leader of a motorcycle gang, as Hank talks with Dr. Gavin's adult daughter Elaine. Following a scuffle, Hank and Mike shake hands and ignore Tina, who swims to a rock jetty. Shortly after arriving at the jetty, and as The Del-Aires perform "The Zombie Stomp," Tina is attacked and killed by the monster. Tina's body soon thereafter causes a commotion when it washes ashore, still covered in blood.

The police investigating Tina's death enlist Dr. Gavin to "get to work on this." Dr. Gavin, who proposes Carbon-14 tests as a means to investigate the genetic structure of a tissue sample, comforts Elaine about her romantic feelings toward Hank. Eulabelle, Dr. Gavin's housekeeper and Mammy archetype, then suggests to Dr. Gavin that "the voodoo" is responsible for Tina's death. Elaine later decides to skip a slumber party with her adult, female friends. The monster, now joined by additional monsters presumably derived from the same radioactive waste-mediated, skeleton transformation mechanism, subsequently attacks the slumber party, killing over 20 of the attendees. The local media - including a young newspaper vendor who shouts "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" - then begins to report the attacks.

An indeterminate time later, three female travelers driving through town on a remote road experience a flat tire. While attempting to replace the tire, they are attacked and killed by the monsters. As Hank and Elaine attend an evening dance party at the beach, with music again provided by The Del-Aires, one of the monsters stalks two young women who are walking through town. Frustrated when the women are picked up by a passing automobile before it can attack them, the monster instead attacks female mannequins on display in a storefront window, in the process severing its arm. Dr. Gavin and Hank later study the severed arm, which is still alive, with Dr. Gavin characterizing the muscle tissue as the taxonomically questionable "a sea anemone, a species of protozoa." Although Dr. Gavin and Hank cannot devise a way to kill the arm, Eulabelle accidentally spills a container of improbably-liquid metallic sodium on the arm, which kills it. Dr. Gavin thus realizes a chemical method for destroying the monsters: application of "plain old sodium."

Two drunken men stumbling through town encounter a dead, mutilated man inside a parked truck. One of the drunks is shortly thereafter attacked and killed by the monsters, thus representing the only males killed by the monsters. Following a montage of additional women being attacked and killed, the police initiate unsuccessful searches for the monsters by tracking the latter's trail of radioactive water. As Hank drives to New York City to obtain a supply of metallic sodium, Elaine performs her own search for the monsters at a local quarry, near where the women travelers were killed. Upon learning this, Dr. Gavin rushes off to assist Elaine, bringing a small amount of sodium with him. As Elaine is testing the quarry water, which registers as highly radioactive, she notices the emergence of a monster. Despite wearing dress shoes she manages to avoid an attack by walking away, but she then falls and becomes incapacitated by a bloody leg injury. Dr. Gavin arrives at her side and, by tossing sodium, kills an approaching monster in a fiery explosion. As additional monsters approach, Dr. Gavin engages one of them in extended Hand-to-hand combat. Hank then arrives with a large supply of sodium, kills the monster that is attacking Dr. Gavin (in the process badly burning Gavin), and with the assistance of police destroys the remaining monsters.

As a song by the Del-Aires plays on the radio, Hank later visits and nuzzles the recovering Elaine in her bedroom, wherein one of Eulabelle's Voodoo dolls has been placed on a bedside table.

Cast[edit]

  • John Scott as Hank Green
  • Alice Lyon as Elaine Gavin
  • Allan Laurel as Dr. Gavin
  • Eulabelle Moore as Eulabelle
  • Marilyn Clarke as Tina
  • Agustin Mayor as Mike
  • Damon Kebroyd as Lt. Wells
  • Munroe Wade as TV Announcer (credited as Monroe Wade)
  • Carol Grubman as Girl in Car
  • Dina Harris as Girl in Car
  • Emily Laurel as Girl in Car
  • Sharon Murphy as 1st Girl
  • Diane Prizio as 2nd Girl
  • The Del-Aires as Vocal Group
  • Charter Oaks M.C. as Motorcycle Gang

(Uncredited cast)

  • Robin Boston Barron as Biker
  • John Becker as Del-Aires Member
  • Gary Robert Jones as Del-Aires Member
  • Ronnie Linares as Del-Aires Member
  • Bob Osborne as Del-Aires Member
  • Floyd Keeler as Biker
  • Del Tenney as Gas Station Attendant
  • Wayne Tippit as Drunk Killed by Monster
  • Daniel Walker as Drunk #1

Production[edit]

The film's working title was Invasion of the Zombies.[2]

Unlike the beach party movies filmed up to that time, this film was shot in black and white and on the Atlantic coast. Produced in Stamford, Connecticut, the beach scenes were filmed in an area of town called Shippan Point, and shot over a period of three weeks.

The biker gang in the film was played by the Charter Oak Motorcycle Club of Riverside, Connecticut.[3]

The monsters for the film were constructed at Gutzon Borglum's sculpting studio in Stamford. There were two monster suits, and when they dried, one was too small for the stuntman. Production assistant Ruth Glassenberg Freedman had a son, Charles Freedman, who was 16 at the time. He fit perfectly into the suit and thus portrayed a monster in the film.[3]

The "underwater" transformation scene of the monsters was actually shot on a stage with images of fish in an aquarium superimposed over the dissolving stage shots. Chocolate syrup[4][unreliable source?] was used for blood during the monster attack scenes.

The estimated budget of the film was $50,000.[3]

Release[edit]

The original theatrical release of the film paired it with another Del Tenney feature, The Curse of the Living Corpse, in a studio-sanctioned double feature.[2]

Promotion[edit]

The advertising for the double feature of Horror of Party Beach and Living Corpse capitalized on a gimmick first utilized by director William Castle, in which some newspaper advertisements included a call-out that stated: "For your protection! We will not permit you to see these shockers unless you agree to release the theater of all responsibility for death by fright!" Theaters were encouraged by the distributor to have patrons sign a "Fright Release" before they took their seats. The trailer for the double feature also included this claim.

Although billed in its promotional material as "The First Horror Monster Musical," all the songs heard in the film were presented as either soundtrack music or source music, as opposed to the style of a traditional musical with songs sung by central characters of the story. Ray Dennis Steckler's The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies also made the same claim a few months earlier.[5]

Comic book[edit]

As a tie-in, a monographic fumetti comic book by Wally Wood and Russ Jones detailing the film's story was released by the Warren Publishing Company under its Famous Films masthead. It has a 35-cent cover price.[6][7]

Music[edit]

Edward Earle Marsh (aka Zebedy Colt) composed the film's soundtrack; Wilfred Holcombe was credited as the musical director. Marsh and Holcombe wrote three songs that were performed in the film: "Joy Ride", "The Zombie Stomp" and "You Are Not a Summer Love."

Gary Robert Jones and Ronnie Linares, both of the Del-Aires (a Paterson, New Jersey rock band who play themselves as a local band), wrote one song together, "Drag," and one song each individually: "Wigglin' Wobblin'" (Jones) and "Elaine" (Linares). The Del-Aires performed all six songs in the film.[8]

Reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 0% based on five reviews, with a weighted average rating of 3 out of 10.[9]

The Horror of Party Beach was included as one of the choices in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.[1]

Author and film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film a "BOMB", his lowest rating. In his review, Maltin called it "one of the earliest anti-nuclear warning films", but also stated that it failed to get its message across.[10]

Movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured The Horror of Party Beach in one of its season 8 episodes in 1997.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

The film inspired punk band Sloppy Seconds's song "The Horror of Party Beach", which appeared on their 1989 album Destroyed.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lisanti, Thomas (2012). Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969. McFarland. p. 114. ISBN 0-786-42729-9.
  2. ^ a b Weaver, Tom (2006). Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup. McFarland. p. 349. ISBN 0-786-42858-9.
  3. ^ a b c O'Keefe, James (March 1, 2013). "'Party Beach' a cult hit 40 years later". Stamford Advocate. stamfordadvocate. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  4. ^ "Trivia". IMDB. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  5. ^ Chad Plambeck, Bad Movie Planet November 15, 2009
  6. ^ The Comic Book Database
  7. ^ Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant
  8. ^ "The Dynamic Del-Aires". Bad Movie Planet. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
  9. ^ "The Horror of Party Beach (1964) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  10. ^ Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 295. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
  11. ^ "Mystery Science Theater 3000 Unofficial Episode Guide: Season 8". The Satellite News. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
  12. ^ "horror of party beach | Misan[trope]y". Misan[trope]y. Retrieved 2019-04-16.

External links[edit]